Ask just about any Cubs prospect-hound, broadcaster, or coach who’s the best guy to be around in the system and you’re likely to get the same answer: Delvin Zinn. An infielder who has been in the organization since 2016, it is hard to find a time when Zinn does not have a smile on his face.
His inspiring attitude and zeal for the game rubbed off on a South Bend Cubs roster that had some of the most impressive performances in the organization in the first half of the season. But Zinn is more than just a feel-good player. He has broken out with the bat this year after finishing 2018 strong in South Bend, putting up a .264/.332/.347 slash line and swiping a career-high 20 bases in 341 plate appearances between South Bend and Myrtle Beach.
I was able to catch up with Zinn prior to his promotion to High-A to ask him about being drafted twice by the Cubs, what it is like playing for one of the most successful managers in minor league history.
CI: You were drafted not once, but twice by the Cubs. What was it like to know they had that much confidence in you?
DZ: That’s huge for me. That’s what helped me come the second time. Just knowing that they really wanted me. They told me they had a plan for me and so far it’s gone well.
CI: Did you have an idea that you were going to be picked the second time around? Did you maintain contact with the organization?
DZ: I pretty much knew it was coming. There were more teams involved this time but my area scout with the Cubs stayed with me, even came to my house a couple times just to let me know they were still interested and were still going to get me.
CI: South Bend manager Buddy Bailey is one of the greatest minor league managers of all time. What is different between him and the other managers you have had in the past?
DZ: Buddy is old school. That’s pretty much the only difference. [Managers] all know what they need to know. Buddy hasn’t found anything he doesn’t know yet. Even if he doesn’t know it, he’ll make it seem like you think he knows it. But Buddy is good, he knows a lot and he has been around the game for a while. He’s fun to be around, too.
CI: Is it hard to balance playing for yourself and playing for your team?
DZ: Not really for me. I’m a team-first guy anyway, so as long as I’m contributing and helping out teammates, I feel like my game just follows along.
CI: Who is one pitcher in Chicago you wouldn’t ever want to face?
DZ: I’m going to go with Kyle Hendricks. I feel like I do pretty well with velocity and stuff, but dotting it on the outside corner, I don’t know. He’s the rollover king.
CI: You have played everywhere on the diamond and everywhere in the lineup. What is your ideal position in the field and in the lineup?
DZ: I like playing second and I love leading off just to get it going and just having a team at-bat in my first at-bat, which I’m fine with doing. I led off all in college.
CI: Maybe you are just fooling everyone, but you seem to be one of the most likable players that I have seen in the system. Have you always had that kind of attitude?
DZ: That’s what I’ve done my whole life, I’ve always been an energizer bunny. That’s what they called me in high school so, I mean, I’m always joking around. If you’re not having fun then why do it?
CI: Who is the jokester of the team?
DZ: (Tyler) Durna. The most sarcastic person I’ve met in my life.
As Zinn’s impressive skillset allows him to progress up the organizational ladder as a player, I would not bet against him ending up as a manager of his own club one day in the future. His clubhouse presence will allow him to continue calling the baseball field his home for as long as he wants.